Visible Communities

Our Visible Communities programme aims to:

The National Centre for Writing is offering a range of professional development opportunities to UK-based Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse, and translators working from heritage, diaspora and community languages.

The Translators Association and the Society of Authors have published a statement on racial equality in literary translation, with recommended reading and a list of initiatives aimed at inclusion and equitable access to literary translation and publishing.

Visible Communities is supported by Arts Council England.

Visible Communities at the BCLT Summer School

We are offering six bursaries for UK-based Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse translators for the 2022 BCLT Summer School, which will run online from 18th to 22nd July.

BCLT and NCW are working with the editors of the Decolonising Translation anthology, Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang, to programme the 2022 BCLT Summer School public events. The anthology will be published by Tilted Axis Press in July 2022.

For more details about the BCLT Summer School, the programme, workshops and bursaries, please check the BCLT website.

Visible Communities residencies at Dragon Hall

We are offering two short residencies in 2022 in the Dragon Hall Cottage in Norwich, with the support of the Francis W Reckitt Arts Trust, as part of the Visible Communities programme.

The two residencies are open to UK-based Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse literary translators working from any language into English. We are particularly interested in collaborating with literary translators and writers who translate from or have some knowledge of the diaspora and heritage language communities within the UK.

Each residency will offer:

Each residency will run for two weeks; possible months are May, June, September or December 2022.

Please send your application to residencies@nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk. The deadline for submissions is Monday 21st March 2022. For more details, and to find out how to apply, please check the residencies section of our website.

In 2021, we hosted five short residencies in the cottage at Dragon Hall to UK-based Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse translators, with support from the Francis W Reckitt Arts Trust. The focus of each residency was on time to translate, with one short commission for the NCW website. Our translators also had a mentoring session with either Meena Kandasamy or Sawad Hussain. You can read about our five translators in residence – Anam Zafar, Derek Barretto, Rabi Thapa, Shagufta Sharmeen and Yvette Siegert – in the residencies section of the NCW website.

Visible Communities virtual residencies

The National Centre for Writing is welcoming five translators in virtual residence from April to July 2022 for the Visible Communities programme. They are Nadiyah Abdullatif, Lydia Hounat, Vineet Lal, Coco Mbassi and Shagufta Sharmeen Tania.

You can find out more about our 2022 translators in virtual residence here Current and future residents – National Centre for Writing, and about our 2021 translators in virtual residence here Former residents – National Centre for Writing. The 2021 virtual residencies were supported by the Jan Michalski Foundation.

Tilted Axis anthology

What does it mean to decolonise translation?

In recent years, there has been a growing conversation re-evaluating the way literature is written, published and read in the Anglophone world, pushing for a dismantling of the idea of a Western canon, and questioning the dominance of English-language writing in representing places and communities. Where do we go from here, and what are the implications for literary translation? What happens when we cast a critical eye over what is and isn’t considered literature, what is translated into which language and why, how translation is carried out, by whom and for whom? Most professional translators and editors in the anglosphere remain white — but is it enough to call for more diversity in this area, especially if the intended readers remain white, and given that the very concept of professionalisation is entangled with imperialism? Is the idea of decolonising translation, particularly into English, a contradiction?

These are some of the questions editors Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang will be asking in this anthology to be published by Tilted Axis Press in July 2022, with the support of the National Centre for Writing’s Visible Communities programme and the Jan Michalski Foundation.

Other opportunities and projects

Our Emerging Translators Mentoring Scheme includes the Visible Communities Mentorship for UK-based Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse literary translators and / or literary translators working from heritage languages.  In 2021-22, the mentors are Meena Kandasamy and Sawad Hussain.

We are working with partners on a number of projects.

Multilingual Creators is a partnership with the Stephen Spender TrustNew Writing NorthComma Press and the National Centre for Writing to extend the Trust’s Translators in Schools project to focus on community languages.

The Poetry Translation Centre is rolling out its workshop programme to other cities, encouraging local communities to use their heritage languages for literary translation.

The National Centre for Writing is working with Literature Must Fall to set up and run a programme of multi-generational activities in Birmingham around Punjabi language, literature and translation, including workshops, a festival and a summer school. We will also explore whether this model could be used with other language communities.

We are planning a number of public events throughout the programme and will end with a high-profile event to share the findings of the Visible Communities programme.

We would like to thank Arts Council England for supporting the Visible Communities programme, the Francis W Reckitt Arts Trust for supporting residencies at Dragon Hall, and the Jan Michalski Foundation for their support for the Tilted Axis Press anthology and our virtual residencies.